Welcome to the Connected World

The world is becoming more and more connected, whether we look at consumer products like thermostats, commercial assets like a fleet of trucks, or infrastructure systems as extensive as electricity grids or cities. By understanding the broad landscape of the connected world, business and technology leaders can ready their firm for the implications — positive and negative — of asset control, business model change, and deeper data-driven customer engagement.

In Forrester’s upcoming report, “Mapping The Connected World,” we map the broad landscape of the emerging connected world, assessing the attractiveness and readiness of different industries and use cases. This report draws from and synthesizes related research around smart products, the connected car, and smart cities, while setting the stage for upcoming reports like the connected home and embedded systems. Our focus is on analyzing the business impacts of increasing connectivity between physical devices and infrastructures, and digital computing and analytic systems.

The Connected World

As we research this space, we are interviewing vendors who are providing components and solutions for the connected world as well as business executives participating in the decision-making and implementation process for these solutions in their firm. These are some of the questions we are investigating:

 

  • What’s driving or motivating firms’ investment and implementation of connected world solutions?
  • Who are the buyers, mainstream IT function or line-of-business execs?
  • What are the challenges and pain points in implementing these solutions?
  • What vertical markets or industries are currently the most mature? What verticals will grow in the next five years?
  • What does the network of vendor partnerships look like?
  • How are vendors positioning their connected world solutions in the market?

 

Forrester has been researching this space as far back as 2001 when we published a report called “The X Internet,” a category we defined as: Internet devices and applications that sense, analyze, and control the real world. That’s still a good working definition. But the confluence of tech trends like mobile, social, analytics, cloud, and smart computing have brought much more relevance, richness, and consequence to the definition than ever before.

Here’s an example: In the 2001 report, we gave a hypothetical example of an Internet-connected thermostat (pretty prophetic, right?). We posited that homeowners could check and adjust their house temperatures any time they were on the Internet to optimize their comfort and energy use. But in 2013, the interesting part of this concept isn’t the Internet connectivity — that’s a given. The interest comes from the intersection of those key technology trends. It’s having a thermostat learn from and adjust to behavior using predictive analytics and sensing; it’s being able to see a year’s worth of stored energy data on a smartphone in a simple dashboard; it’s creating opportunities for utilities to engage in new, mutually beneficial services with homeowners that curb consumption during peak grid usage.

The connected world and the enabling technologies can only be fully understood in the context of their use cases and resulting business outcomes. Does your company have an example of a connected world solution you’ve implemented? Tell us about it! We will continue our conversations through mid-September and would welcome your perspective. Please leave a comment below or email joclark(at)forrester.com to schedule an interview.